I’ve been called many names throughout my life. Nicknames, surnames, insults, and pet names. But out of all these things I’ve been called by my screen names the most. Quick, easy to remember usernames I’d make up as a kid, which I’d have to unfortunately keep forever because that’s where all my best stats and items were. But these screen names were different from normal names. Normal names are just something to respond a call to. To sign a name with. To introduce yourself as. Screen names are different. Screen names tie memories, virtual events, and friendships together. Do you remember your first screen name? I sure do, and boy, was it embarrassing. My current screen name is Konulator. Here’s my story.
Not too long ago, I felt that opening up, crying, and being emotional was a sign of weakness and emotional instability.
I’m happy to say that I’ve come far.
To begin, I had a great childhood. Always had food on the table, always had a roof over my head, both my mother and my father were very loving. My parents emigrated from Eastern Europe and busted their hump so I don’t have to. It’s something I’ll always be forever grateful for, and I’ll never be able to repay my parents for it.
In 4th grade, I was a pretty smart kid. Not bragging here, but I was doing pretty good. Things came easy, and it was hard to believe that that would ever change. Compliments from my teacher, hearing my parents tell me that they’re proud of me, classmates coming to me for help. It was a wonderful sense of euphoria. It was also an unhealthy never-ending loop.
At this point, everything was absolutely spectacular. This was also about the same time I was just beginning to get into video games.
When I was in 1st grade, I think the first game I got my hands on was Final Fantasy VIII. It was a world on a scale unlike anything I’d seen before! Cars, magical flying universities, and open waters. I was completely entranced. This is where my love of video games began. Over the next few years, IÂ playedÂ PlayStation and PS2 classics. Ape Escape, Metal Gear Solid, Okami, Sly Cooper, and original PlayStation demo disksÂ became just a few of the many games that I grew up with as a child.
I strove for perfection in those games, and there was nothing quite like getting a perfect headshot killstreak 100% on a game you’ve sunk countless hours into. Except, you can’t be 100% perfect in real life.
As I got older, and as my voice went lower, so did my grades. No more perfect marks, harder material and an overall more stressful situation. It hit me like a bus.
A hurricane of fearful questions assaultedÂ my mind daily. What if I’m not destined to do anything great with my life? What if the bad things that happen around me are all my fault? Could I have prepared myself better to prevent any or all mistakes?
Eventually I feltÂ sorrow for just about everything I could blame myself for. Someone didn’t understand a joke I made? Sorry for not explaining better. Asked a silly question or didn’t understand something? Sorry for not learning more. Couldn’t help a friend who lived thousands of kilometres away? Sorry for not predicting the future for you.
Yes, these soundÂ ridiculous, but looking back, these things made me who I am today.
Ah yes, people who live thousands of kilometres away. Once I became introduced to the internet, I was drawn to communities based around my favourite games and media. Eventually, I would find myself in forums about all kinds of things, and once online multiplayer games came out, it all fit together perfectly. You could meet someone online one day and be playing Counter Strike with them the next day. I met a ton of people during that time and played daily, strengthening reflexes and growing my stomach.
The people I met online have, and still are, helping me get through everyday life. They’re someone to talk to when no one else is around (God bless time zones) and they’re a strong foundation of support. I love each and every one of them, but in order to protect their privacy, can only mention them indirectly. So, here’s to all you guys. I love you.
Unfortunately, I still wanted perfectionÂ in everything I did. Which, frankly, is very idiotic and stupid, but I was caught in a loop. Whenever I’d fail or be imperfect, I’d hate myself, hate myself to the point of balling my eyes out in the corner. But, of course, balling my eyes out was just another sign of weakness, so, I filled up the bathroom tub with freezing water, dumped ice in it, and dunk my head for long periods of time until I stopped crying. The only positive thing that ever came out of this action was that I never had to use conditioner, because my hair would always be spiky due to the constant need to dry it.
A few times, instead of filling up the tub and dunking my head in it, I sat in it with a razor.
Once again, I want to mention how important everyone I met on the internet is to me. Because of them, that razor never slashed my skin. I love them so much, and, thinking back, I think that love is what kept the razor away from my arms. Whenever I’d find myself in the scenario of sitting in that tub with the razor in hand, I’d always end up just dropping it and crying even more because I’d never forgive myself if I just left all my internet friends without a clue as to where I went or what happened. Again, I love them. So much.
Music, was along the ride for every part of this story so far, and it’s still right by me while I’m typing this. Musicians, bands, singers, all understood me with their lyrics and tunes without ever having met me before. I could connect to the emotion in a song, and for once, know that someone has been through the exact same dreadful emotions, tearing-at-your-heart feelings, or terrifying experiences. It rangedÂ from hard rock, to jazz, to acoustic songs, to ballads, to crazy, beautiful Irish celtic rock. The wonderful thing is, too, is that all I had to do to block out the world was plug in some earphones to a Walkman and put them in my ears.
Along with the music, I began going on walks. Some fresh air, some sights, something different from my daily routine of constantly refreshing an internet news feed. Sometime after that, my walking pace broke into a jog and then into running. Moving at my own will towards anything, away from anything I wanted, made me feel free. Not to mention the feeling of gulping down some fresh cold water after a run.
I felt absolutely alive. I had something that was mine. I was going outside and actually experiencing every moment, texture, and detail. Have you ever looked at a tree real close? Seen every single splinter, curve, rugged edge? Or your your hand? All those hair follicles and separate strands of your skin? I don’t know about you, but real life’s graphics are unreal.
Along with those walks, I was also presented with the opportunity to pet every dog I saw. So, whenever I ran, I’d stop and pet every single lil’ pupper and doggo. For just a moment, it made everything okay. Dogs are so great. I don’t know what we did to deserve them, but they’re such a precious gift. I think every animal is. I don’t think I can stress this enough how much a happy dog can fix your day.
After a while, I stopped apologizing to people and started thanking them more. I’ve gone on road trips, had my share of feelings and emotions, and can now say that I’ve
felt the utter and excruciating pain ofÂ ran 10k in less than an hour.
Right now, I’m sitting on a balcony somewhere in Canada, sipping on some ginseng tea with a touch of honey, and
headbanging nodding my head to some rock from the 60’s. I’ve smiled everyday for probably about a month now, and cried a bunch, too. Younger me sure didn’t know how good it was going to be. He also didn’t know how many dogs he was going to get to meet.
I think that just about covers how much I’ve grown/changed/evolved/brightened. This is around the time that I should probably type out some single, life changing, piece of advice, right?
Well, here’s the kicker. There isn’t any. All of us are unique, living, breathing people with different personalities, emotions, and needs. No one piece of advice can cover all of that. Ever. Not even if it’s in Latin. (Ullam offensionem, Latin lovers out there.)
Just remember, there’s no tomorrow if you’re not here today.
A tomorrow without you would be pretty fucking lame, anyway.
Konulator currently lives and breathes in The Great White North that is Canada. You can contact him on Instagram, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He especially enjoys receiving mail that has pictures of dogs or other cute animals. (Just any animal, really.)